Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Computational Social Science

In a post entitled "A New Kind of Social Science For The 21st Century" from, Nicholas Christakis talks about how Computational Social Science is going to change the social sciences in the 21st century. To quote from the article:
"In the 20th century, there was a tremendous expectation, or appreciation, for the role that the biological and the physical sciences could play in improving human welfare and human affairs. We had everything from the discovery of nuclear power to plastics to, in biology, the discovery of new drugs, beginning with penicillin (which is one of the gigantic feats of human ingenuity ever). We had this phenomenal progress that was made in the sciences, in the physical and the biological sciences.
In the 21st century, the social sciences offer equal promise for improving human welfare. The advances that we have made and will be making, especially in understanding human behavior and its very deep origins, will be translated into interventions of diverse sorts that will have a much bigger impact in terms of improving human welfare than many of the prior examples that I gave." 

If you have time, its well worth checking out the whole article or listening to the audio file.

Thanks to Jim Olds for the heads up.

Traffic Movement in London from Travel Cards

Why and how do people move around cities? Is it to get to work or to meet people? These are some questions one can explore if one has data. One can also explore what happens if a key transit stations or links is closed and how will this impact on the rest of the city.

Researchers from UCL have analyzed millions of Oyster Card journeys in a bid to understand how, why and where we travel in London. They used Transport for London’s database of 11 million records taken over one week from the Oyster Card electronic ticketing system.

Professor Michael Batty (UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis) and Dr Soong Kang (UCL Management Science and Innovation) applied the techniques of statistical physics to their mountain of raw data.

Such data could also be very useful if one was trying to build some spatial interaction models or hybrid agent-based models of residential location and employment or pedestrian models.

Thanks to Digital Urban and Mike Batty for pointing this work out to me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Retail spatial interaction models

If you are interested in the applications of mathematical models especially those of spatial interaction models the movie below from a Open University Course called Modelling by Mathematics might be of interest. It discusses how to compute the impacts of new shopping centres on their surroundings in 1977.

Readers of this post might also be interested in Mike Batty's  book "Urban Modelling: Algorithms, Calibrations, Predictions" which was published in 1976 and is now freely available. Click here to download it.

The book covers a plethora of topics, introducing the reader to simulation models and the need for such methods. For example, "simulation methods are used to derive the behaviour of the system when the system is too complex to be modelled using the more direct analytic approach (Batty, 1976)."

The book provides a summary of the first generation of urban models referring to the key authors and models such as Lowry (1964) model and it successor including the Pittsburgh Time-Oriented Metropolitan Model (TOMM), the Projective Land Use Model (PLUM) for the San Francisco area, and a wide variety of Activity Allocation and Stocks-Activities models. The book presents how such models were mainly developed for practical planning situations through metropolitan planning agencies or consultants in North America and in several European cities. How at first, these models where developed with the aim of solving land-use and transportation questions, later being employed to address a wider range of urban problems.

Anyone interested in urban modelling and spatial interaction models is recommended to explore this book and check out Mikes Blog:

Lowry, I.S. (1964), A Model of Metropolis, Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA.